New Brunswickers working in the private sector and the NB Coalition for Pay Equity are joining their voices to ask the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Margaret-Ann Blaney: “Show us the studies already! Make public the results of the pay equity evaluations conducted in home support agencies, child care, group homes and transition houses.”
The government began pay equity programs with these groups a few years ago. The child care educators’ pay equity program began in 2007; the home support workers and the transition house workers’ in 2008 and the community residences’ in 2009. Pay equity adjustments were expected in 2010. However, the pay equity results remain unknown to the employees concerned.
Committees were set up for each of the four sectors, with representatives from employees, employers and the government. These committees prepared job descriptions and evaluated the jobs in order to compare them with jobs mostly done by men. But even the committees are kept in the dark as to the level of wages that would be necessary to reach pay equity.
Vallie Stearns, Chair of the NB Coalition for Pay Equity, fears that the delays and secrecy show that the government is tempted to avoid paying equal pay for work of equal value: “Why else would the government hide information from the workers?”
Meanwhile, frustration among employees is mounting in the four targeted sectors. Romana Sehic, a group home worker, says, “The government is expecting group home workers to provide services to the most vulnerable people in our society but it does not recognize the value of the wide range of services we provide.”
Thérèse Duguay, a home support worker, says she wishes only one thing: “that the government stop going in circles and finalize the pay equity payments”.
Employers are also concerned about the government’s obvious fear to act on pay equity.
Karen Martin, Executive Director of a Fredericton child care center, hopes for action soon. “Pay equity would help to attract and retain staff. It would help to ensure the constant quality of our services,” says Martin.
Fiona Williams, Executive Director of a second stage transition house, adds, “Our organizations want to pay their employees fairly. The wages must reflect the complexity of the work they do. Transition house workers are helping women and children in crisis who are facing big decisions about changing their lives. This is skilled work.”
Vallie Stearns concludes, “If the government does not make pay equity adjustments for these four private sector groups in the next budget, it will only prove that voluntary measures don’t work and that legislation is essential to ensure the right to pay equity.”
When she was Minister responsible for the Status of Women under Bernard Lord, Margaret-Ann Blaney introduced the Wage Gap Action Plan 2005-2010, which was based on voluntary measures. It was endorsed by the Graham government, however the final report of the Wage Gap Action Plan was never released., The Coalition has consistently warned that voluntary measures would not work.
Pay equity is equal pay for work of equal value. It means that jobs mostly done by women should have the same pay as jobs mostly done by men, if they have the same value.